Alberta Summer Games organizers hope as many as 1,500 people will step up to volunteer

Less than two months before athletes flood into Grande Prairie for the 2018 Alberta Summer Games, hundreds of volunteer positions are still empty.

At least 1,000 volunteers are needed in total, said games manager Lindsey McNeil, although the ideal number is at least twice that.

Roughly 550 people are registered to help run the event, as of May 21.

“We really are pushing for the 2,000 because it helps everything run a little smoother and then we don’t end up with volunteers who are fatigued,” McNeil told CBC News Monday. 

McNeil said she is confident another 1,000 to 1,500 people will sign up by opening day on July 19.

“Grande Prairie is historically a very volunteer-driven community,” she said. “Any big event like this, there’s never been a struggle.”

Lindsey McNeil, games manager for the 2018 Alberta Summer Games, says she is confident hundreds more volunteers will sign up by July. (Zoe Todd/CBC)

The provincial multi-sport event will attract more than 2,000 young athletes and their coaches to the northern Alberta city of 63,000 people.

The athletes, aged 11 to 17, will compete in 13 sports, including lacrosse, rugby, swimming and triathlon.

Two Grande Prairie high schools will be transformed into athlete camps from July 19 to 22, and volunteers are needed to help feed and look after them. 

The event also requires a group of men and women to assist with security at the two athlete villages and the various competition venues.

‘We’ll find a position to include everybody’

Volunteers are assigned to tasks that match their age and skills, McNeil said. Basic training is provided for security jobs.

“We’ll find a position to include everybody,” she said. “We have a whole team who are willing to help you find your place in the games.”

McNeil is encouraging families to sign up together, though volunteers must be at least 12 to work without adult supervision.

Based on 2016 census data, roughly four per cent of Grande Prairie’s population aged 10 to 65 needs to volunteer in order for McNeil and her team of organizers to hit their goal of 2,000.

“I wouldn’t be worried until about two weeks out, and by that time I’m 110 per cent confident that we’ll be where we need to be,” McNeil said.

“It seems like a really, really large number but it’s totally manageable, especially in a community that’s this giving of their time and their resources.”

Volunteers can register online and will be treated to a banquet at the end of the 2018 Alberta Summer Games.

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